Community Emergency Response Team Volunteers Set For Tunnel Disaster Drills

For New York City, it’s the worst possible scenario. From terrorist attack, national disaster or accident, victims are trapped inside a lightless tunnel. They must be rescued quickly or die. Early this month, New York City Fire Department, Emergency Management and a hardy core of CERT volunteers ran three days of drills to assure they’d be ready should disaster strike

“Last week, CERTs participated in FDNY drills that simulated multiple simultaneous acts of terrorism: a bomb in a subway tunnel, a party boat explosion, car crash and fires in a tunnel, and a subway wall collapse,” said Frank Farance, one of the volunteers. “We got to see FDNY’s Rescue Drones and Search Robots used in their response.”

Raw physical power engaged in lifesaving.

Here, in a photo attributed to FDNY, a firefighter slams a sledgehammer into a concrete wall to break through to a location where victims are expected to be found.

FDNY’s photo shows cars wrecked inside the tunnel with victims trapped inside.

Acetylene torches burn through thick steel encountered behind the concrete.

Technical advances make it possible for a drone to find its way down the pitch dark tunnel, searching for victims and assessing conditions without risking the lives of rescue workers in an unstable section.

As shown on Eyewitness News, victims located deep inside are able to be helped safely, thanks to both drones and walking bots which relayed images back to rescuers.

A “victim” of the tunnel collapse is prepared to lie down inside the darkened tunnel until found by a rescue team.

Rescuers arrive prepared. A victim impaled by a pole is made as comfortable as possible before being transported outside to a hospital.

Brooklyn Daily Eagle reporter Mary Frost participated as CERT volunteer and filed a report.

“Last week, I lay on a freight train tunnel running below East New York, ‘impaled’ by an iron pipe. Laying on my back in the black tunnel, it all felt real. Noises from far down the shaft echoed eerily, then faded.”

Read Frost’s report here.

CERT volunteer Frank Farance provided all photos not otherwise attributed. He also filed this video, showing what it’s like to be stuck in a tunnel during a disaster, fortunately in this case, a simulated disaster:

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